Is there too much MMA on TV?
Before you answer with an unequivocal “Hell NO!” let me broach this from two different perspectives.
1: Is there too much MMA on TV for the Fan in that there is a legitimate risk of over saturation and a loss of interest?
Now before you try to reach through your monitor and slap me, let me remind you of the concept of too much of a good thing. It has been suggested by some (journalists, fans, and even commentators) that too much MMA may lead to less interest in all but the most hyped/important/biggest fights. And while there is some anecdotal evidence to suggest this, for the most part, more exposure leads to more demand. For example look no further than TV Food Network. Before 1993, food programming was almost solely broadcast on PBS. While they had a good following and made several chefs “celebrities”, they were still a niche market. When the Food Network launched they not only gave us how to cooking shows, but cooking competitions, cooking equipment review shows, and were cross promoting their stars on affiliated channels like HGTV, the Travel Channel, DIY etc.
Much the same thing is happening with the UFC’s move to FOX Networks and Viacom’s cross promotion of it’s Bellator stars. Some people lament the loss of such pure cooking shows as the Frugal Gourmet and Julia Child’s French Chef in favor of things like The Great Food Truck Race and Chopped, but no one can deny the effect over saturation of cooking shows have had on our culture. Over saturation has given rise to the “foodie” class, micro brews, and an abundance of new high quality restaurants.
While some may lament the loss of once a month (or less) PPV’s with every card being stacked and every fight feeling like it has huge relevance in the division, I for one, welcome the exposure MMA is receiving. If that means I don’t get super excited for every card and every fight that happens right now, that’s OK. Cause like the Culinary industry (or the home repair industry, or Skateboarding, etc.), MMA is going through a paradigm shift at the moment and more exposure can only lead to a better sport. At least from this fans perspective.
2: Is there too much MMA on TV for the promoter in that they risk over saturation and the loss of PPV revenue?
And this is the other side of the coin. While I don’t see the downside as a fan, I have to wonder about the downside as a promotion. Especially a promotion that has relied so heavily on a Pay Per View model for the lion share of it’s revenue (I’m looking at you UFC.) Does the over saturation of MMA have a negative effect of PPV numbers and can an MMA juggernaut like the UFC survive the loss of PPV buys?
Anecdotally, you’d have to say Yes, the over saturation does effect the PPV numbers as I noted in last weeks GWI. How many times have fans written on boards that they are not buying this PPV or that PPV cause the main card sucks or it’s not as good as the free cards, or it’s all based around the Main Event? To listen to the MMA fan, the sport is becoming a watered down version of itself and is losing half it’s appeal.
Yet, the PPV numbers say otherwise. There was an excellent piece done on Bloodyelbow.com about the PPV numbers between 2006-2013. And it shows that even with all the free shows on FX and Fox, the one card Main events, and the lack of “stacked” cards, the PPV numbers are still business as usual. In fact, if you take out the Lesnar years, PPV numbers are steadily Increasing. It’s long been said that once the UFC reaches national network TV, it would need to faze out it’s PPV model and yet the numbers are clearly indicating that’s not the case. Part of this is due to the large numbers of newer fans purchasing the PPV’s but part is also due to the willingness of Zuffa and the UFC to alter their product to match the changing market. Unlike PBS in the previous example that had to relinquish it’s Home and Cooking shows when the market changed, the UFC is nimble enough to not only flow with the changes in MMA but Lead those changes as well. That’s why I believe that over saturation will only lead to more PPV buys and more MMA promotions getting into the PPV market in the future.